Alabama Paralegal Career Guide
This guide to paralegal careers is written to help those interested in the legal field learn how to become a paralegal in Alabama. On this page, you will find Alabama paralegal salary information along with job and salary projections and helpful resources to help you launch your paralegal career. Get started on your career journey using the directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in Alabama
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Alabama
- Career Advice from Experienced Legal Professionals
- Additional Paralegal Resources
Law firms remain the primary source of paralegal jobs in Alabama, though corporate legal departments and government agencies may also require paralegal services at a smaller scale. With offices in Birmingham and Huntsville, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP is a top firm in Alabama. This full-service firm practices in over 30 different areas of legal counsel and may provide solid opportunities for paralegals interested in a larger work environment and those wishing to explore many different aspects of law within the same firm. For those seeking greater specialization, Birmingham-based Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC is a dedicated business and defense litigation firm. Areas of practice in this firm include antitrust matters, environmental claims, medical malpractice, and personal injury law. Also in Birmingham, WhatleyKallas specializes in large and complex cases in subjects such as healthcare, mass torts, and employment disputes. The nature of the cases these firms handle often requires a large legal team, providing promising opportunities for paralegal jobs in Alabama.
Other positions may be available at smaller firms in Alabama and can be a good fit for recently graduated paralegals. Corporate legal departments at companies such as Vulcan Materials Company and ProAssurance Corporation provide different work experiences and environments and may be good sources for paralegal jobs in Alabama.
Job Outlook in Alabama
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Alabama from 2016-20261
As corporate employers and law firms seek to minimize the cost of providing legal services, it is expected that paralegals will be allocated a more diverse and substantive array of tasks. Additionally, financial incentives for corporations are expected to continue to drive the expansion of in-house legal departments as a cost-effective replacement for outside counsel. This trend of expansion should increase the total number of available paralegal jobs in Alabama and nationwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified these trends and accordingly projects 15% growth in employment for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2016 to 2026.2 This projected increase in employed compares favorably with the average projected growth for all US occupations at 7% and the average projected growth for all legal positions at 11% over the same time period.2 The Alabama Department of Labor projects similarly positive job growth for paralegals in the state, at a projected rate of 13.7% over the same period.1
Alabama Paralegal Salary Outlook
In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3,010 paralegals and legal assistants employed in Alabama.3 In the same reporting period, the average paralegal salary in Alabama was reported at $44,740.3 Though this is lower than the national average paralegal salary of $50,410, it should be taken into account that the cost of living in Alabama trends lower than national averages.4 In addition, more competitive salary offers can typically be found in urban areas. For example, the average paralegal salary in the Birmingham metro area is $48,140.4 Though paralegal positions are typically competitive due to a large number of applicants, the overall expansion of the profession should yield more available positions and promote increases in Alabama paralegal salary across the state.
Alabama Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
A quick glance at paralegal salary in Alabama by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.3
Paralegal Certification in Alabama
State law does not require Alabama paralegal certification to work as a paralegal or legal assistant. As a result, some law firms and legal departments still provide on-site training for paralegals. However, the vast majority of paralegal jobs in Alabama favor candidates with formal training, such as that earned by attending one of the paralegal schools in Alabama. Many not-for-profit Alabama paralegal programs are offered, six of which are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).5 These programs vary from certificate programs to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Curriculum content generally includes legal fundamentals, formal writing skills, document preparation, client relations, and business ethics. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offer nationally respected voluntary paralegal certification programs for post-graduates.
As stated above, there are no mandated paralegal certification procedures for practicing paralegals in Alabama. However, candidates would do well to attend one of the programs offered by one of the numerous paralegal schools in Alabama. Additionally, voluntary certification through a national organization is highly recommended and gives candidates a competitive edge in the job market; these programs may have minimum educational and/or work experience prerequisites. You can gain a better understanding of the typical requirements for paralegal jobs in Alabama on our jobs board.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Alabama
Externships, internships, and job shadowing experiences are excellent career development and networking tools for prospective paralegals and may give candidates an edge in the competition for Alabama paralegal jobs. It is important not to overlook these resources when attending an Alabama paralegal program, as they may be an especially useful starting point for recent, job-seeking graduates. Overall, formal paralegal education, national certification, and work or internship experience will continue to strongly benefit candidates in the job market. For additional information regarding paralegal and legal assistant training and career prospects in Alabama, refer to the Alabama paralegal associations listed below. You can also learn more about national certification with our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Career Advice from Experienced Legal Professionals
Paralegals provide important support for the firms in which they work and are positioned to make a positive difference for their employers and their employers’ clients. Part of a paralegal’s impact draws from the ability to provide the right resources when and where they are needed. The following Alabama paralegal resources can help you get a head start in your career.
Alabama Paralegal Career Books
The Legal Research and Writing Handbook: A Basic Approach for Paralegals – This guide leads paralegals through the legal research process using a step-by-step approach supplemented by suggestions for useful tools and strategies. With a focus on efficient research, the text covers both print and electronic sources. Also included is comprehensive coverage of the legal writing process.
Family Law in Alabama: Practice and Procedure – This practice-focused text on Alabama domestic law gives legal professionals easy access to relevant statutes and case law. Also included are sample forms for a wide variety of situations in family law that can be modified to suit the facts of individual cases.
Alabama Tort Law – Published by LexisNexis and now in its 5th edition, this text gives a comprehensive explanation of tort law in Alabama. All types of personal injury cases and relevant law are discussed in the book, which also includes historical and current analysis of the state’s law and its development. Practice tips and sample forms give this book an edge over similar texts covering tort law in the state.
Alabama Environmental Law Handbook – As a primer and quick reference, this book is helpful to legal professionals looking to understand environmental law in Alabama. Covered are regulations for waste disposal, resource use and regulations, permit structures, and much more.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for Alabama
Alabama Court Info
Judicial.Alabama.gov – The Unified Alabama Judicial System uses this site as a home portal for all courts within the state’s jurisdiction. From here visitors can access e-filing systems for appellate and trial courts; review court calendars; access court rules and mediation information; and much more. The site is also related to ACIS Online, which allows registered attorneys and their employees to access court documents and case tracking tools.
Law Libraries in Alabama
Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library – The Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library is the oldest law library in the state and has a broad collection of state, regional, and federal legal materials. The law library considers itself a research library and restricts circulation for most materials, but on-site research is welcomed. The library is based in Montgomery and has an online searchable catalog.
Bounds Law Library at the University of Alabama – This library’s impressive collection of over 550,000 print volumes is open to legal professionals and the general public for performing legal research. Select online resources are also available to non-students. The law library is located on the main campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library at Samford University – Located in Birmingham, the Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library is open to attorneys and support staff with proper identification. Legal professionals may use library collections for research, including select electronic databases. Approved visitors may use the library during its extended hours during regular school terms.
Paralegal Associations in Alabama
Alabama Association of Paralegals – Founded in 1982, the Alabama Association of Paralegals now counts approximately 200 members. The association holds three annual seminars that focus on continuing education and professional development in addition to regular meetings and training events. Membership dues are based on luncheon attendance and membership status, with discounted rates for students.
1. Alabama Department of Labor: http://www2.labor.alabama.gov/Projections/Default.aspx
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/